Flowers in Public
Julie Ann Shapiro

Blink, blink. There is a bird on your head and an oleander plant growing in your lap. This you tell me is crazy. Dirt falls from your face.

Bees come to your oleander, I say, they like the flowers. I hear their humming. You say it's the cappuccino machine in the coffee shop. No, I say, the petals are white. The leaves twist and turn on your neck.

Can't you see the leaves? There's dirt on your toes. You shake your head at me. Look, it's planting you here. No, you say.

The sweet hum of bees, I hear them now in my own ears.

I am a daisy. Pink petals blossom in my hair. Can you see them, I say, can you see them? You stand up. Your leaves bend and shake. A tornado circles, leaves fall.

No, don't hurt the oleander. Big, black leather soles squish the white petals. They're so white, don't soil them, please don't. You take a few steps. I reach for the petal and cradle it in my hand.

I say, how could you hurt the flower? You say get some help. Dirt flies from your mouth and a speck of green. It's a seedling.

No, you say, you see a toothpick here, a napkin, and a man; there are no flowers. I say goodbye. I hold the seedling in my hand, add a little water and place in it on the ground. I plant this flower. Others will come. I wonder if they'll be pink like mine.